Intelligent Slot Expander “Modulon”

Intelligent Slot Expander “Modulon”

by syn on 01-07-2013, 23:55
Topic: Hardware
Languages:

Although some pictures of it had been shown on the internet a while ago, it was today that Supersoniqs, well-known within the MSX-scene for their Playsoniq expansion, announced a new product.

At a price of 100 euros, Modulon is a 4-slot expander for MSX1 and higher and offers the following features:

  • It works with the PlaySoniq
  • Has its own 3.57 Mhz crystal (clock) to support (audio)cartridges in overclocked systems
  • Can be stacked with additional Modulons for extra slots. The second expander (and up) will configure itself into a I/O expander.
  • Will fit in- and have a modified MT-Telcom cartridge enclosure
  • Supports an external AC Adapter
  • Uses standard components for future modifications or repairs
  • The three top slots are on/off switchable
  • Compact design
  • Gold plated contacts
  • Modulon has separate volume adjusters for all four slots

As you can tell from the full feature list, compared to most existing slot expanders, Modulon does more than just grant you extra cartridge slots. The most interesting feature is that it, as the name suggests, is a modular device: you can add more Modulons if you have run out of cartridge slots! Since slotexpanders that offer more than 4 slots are no longer being made, this option is truly a blessing for those who like to use all that the MSX has to offer at the same time.

Other notable features are the internal clock for support of music extensions in overclocked systems and the separate volume adjusters per slot. This all sounds like a retro music fan's wet dream and may pave the way for new amazing software. Imagine what an advanced music sequencer can do on a MSX at 7mhz!

But before all this can become a reality, more testing has to be done. As a matter of fact Supersoniqs are looking for 10 people who are willing to field-test the expander. If you are interested, visit the Supersoniqs website for details regarding this. Also found on the Modulon page is a call-out to the msx community for MT-Telcom casings, so if you are able to spare some of those, please contact them as well.

Relevant link: Modulon

Comments (56)

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

02-07-2013, 00:15

A few questions.

What's so special about "It works with the Playsoniq"?
I'm guessing it has something to do with the ability of Playsoniq to act like a slotexpander itself? :/

What are the volume adjusters good for? Personally I would like a separate audio output for every slot (and then optionally block that audio going into the MSX). That would give you higher audio quality and allow you to use an external mixer for mixing, for example, several SCC and FM-PAC cartridges.

Also, I hope no MT-Telcom PCB's are getting trashed, because they can still be very useful when converted to RS232 interfaces.

By boblet

Master (188)

boblet's picture

02-07-2013, 00:21

They could attach the MT-Telcom PCB's to the modulon!

This seems like an ideal addon, do agree regarding the sound, might be a good idea to have that externally routable even if it's just via jumpers or whatever

By syn

Paragon (1862)

syn's picture

02-07-2013, 00:26

I just copy pasted the list of features from the supersoniqs page, but I left out some small parts. In addition to the compatibilty with Playsoniq it states " *1: with a maximum of 4 MB memory config; all other functionality supported without limitations."

Good point for next newspost: dont blindly copy paste featureslists.. and surely don't leave anything out! Big smile

By edoz

Paragon (2034)

edoz's picture

02-07-2013, 06:47

Nice device, i like the 3.5 mhz add-on when running in turbo-mode.

By Meits

Scribe (5066)

Meits's picture

02-07-2013, 11:24

Finally MT Telcom modems are being used usefully since the BBS era. I wonder how many of them were simply thrown into the trash, as mine did.
What about flash cartridges on 7MHz? Will they be put back to a 3,6MHz data transfer rate as well?

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

02-07-2013, 11:54

"The second expander (and up) will configure itself into a I/O expander."

How is this different from inserting any existing slotexpander into any other existing slotexpander?

Seems to me there's a lot of HYPE being generated here for common slotexpander functionality...
The only new thing I read is the dubious volume adjusters and the optional clock crystal.

Also, LOL @ noobness galore which I'm not going to explain because I'll just get yelled at by indoctrinated users.

By edoz

Paragon (2034)

edoz's picture

02-07-2013, 12:03

I love it, a new slot expander, with volume adjustments and a internal clock. Is it possible to use the clock for each slot ?
hope for a release soon!. Need this one !

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

02-07-2013, 12:30

Thank you for your positive reaction edoz and Meits! Thats one of the reasons we still develop things.

New functionality based on customer feedback will indeed seem helpful for some, and questionable for others. But that counts probably for every electronic device. For the rest: everyone can make adjustments to this device to extend it functionality. As for the basis functionality of this slotexpander: it's always a trade-off between costs, space on the pcb and actual time for developing. If projects tend to last to long, changes of not finishing them are getting bigger each day. So at a certain point in time you have to say, let's produce it. And of course any customer feedback on this version will be taken into account for future projects, if any.

Some MSX users will see the benefits of this expander and will enjoy using it. If not, well there are plenty of alternatives, new or on the secondhand market. And maybe some are better than the Modulon, depending on your needs.

One of the challenges was: could we make something that could fit in a MT-Telecom cartridge? It was fun to see that we could. We had a great time designing, testing, soldering and being together working on MSX stuff. For me that's what counts. And I will probably enjoy doing this for a long time.

Of course we want to satisfy everyone, but in this world that's not going to happen. However, we sold everything we've made so far, so I feel strengthened by the thought that we at least made some MSX users happy with the stuff we are doing. ;-)

By Meits

Scribe (5066)

Meits's picture

02-07-2013, 16:31

Right said...
Let the communication skill noobs who only yell from the side line say whatever they want...

By Poltergeist

Champion (266)

Poltergeist's picture

02-07-2013, 16:48

I'm a total noob on hardware (and software, and music... Wink but can these modulons be daisychained? So, could I connect a Modulon to the back port of the Modulon, and then connect a Modulon to that back port, et cetera?

I won't buy it (my MSX'ses are stored) but I like the idea. Especially the volume adjusters can come in handy. But do they also amplify, or just throttle down the volume?

And Guyver800, why are the volumeknobs dubious? Maybe Supersoniqs can do something with comments, so they can improve the thing further...

By OeiOeiVogeltje

Paragon (1191)

OeiOeiVogeltje's picture

02-07-2013, 17:10

Die lui van Supersoniqs zijn GOED bezig!

By Creepy

Champion (328)

Creepy's picture

02-07-2013, 17:22

Now there's a reason to use that like button!

By syn

Paragon (1862)

syn's picture

02-07-2013, 17:48

I like the suggestion of having an audio output for each slot, although not every one has a external mixer I suppose, so for those people the volume knobs could be very welcome, since volume discrepancies are somewhat of a known "problem" on the msx.

The extra clock crystal for overclocked sounds good, because I never thought upgrading a msx to 7mhz would be useful because it would mess up the sound, if this expander solves this problem I will definitely look into it. But I wonder does this clockcrystal solve the problems regarding music on overclocked systems in EXISTING software, or do programmers have to adapt their code to use it?

By Meits

Scribe (5066)

Meits's picture

02-07-2013, 17:53

By eisbaer23

Supporter (11)

eisbaer23's picture

02-07-2013, 17:59

CAEK!!1!EINZ Running Naked in a Field of Flowers

By OeiOeiVogeltje

Paragon (1191)

OeiOeiVogeltje's picture

02-07-2013, 18:00

YAY!

By syn

Paragon (1862)

syn's picture

02-07-2013, 18:03

noob now you messed up your round number Evil

By OeiOeiVogeltje

Paragon (1191)

OeiOeiVogeltje's picture

02-07-2013, 18:04

did i?

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9689)

wolf_'s picture

02-07-2013, 18:07

Among computer nerds, 1024 is even rounder.. ^^

By syn

Paragon (1862)

syn's picture

02-07-2013, 18:08

I failed the g33ktest

By Meits

Scribe (5066)

Meits's picture

02-07-2013, 18:11

Didn't wanna steel the subject, but wanted to congratulate the guy anyway...

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

02-07-2013, 18:24

Ok so no answers? WELL DONE

Guess I won't be buying this then.

By Meits

Scribe (5066)

Meits's picture

02-07-2013, 18:44

Good for you...

By hit9918

Prophet (2771)

hit9918's picture

02-07-2013, 19:35

"The second expander (and up) will configure itself into a I/O expander"
I wondered about that, too.
What is an "IO expander"? It does filter RAM space signals, is it that?

Should a subslot expander filter FFFF acesses in the subslots?
I guess the answer is yes. Then another expander sitting in a subslot, it can keep "IO expander mode" as long as getting no acess to FFFF.

"IO expander mode" actualy could put RAM requests on all slots.
Then one cartridge still can have RAM space.

The manual of the expander should describe what it does.

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

02-07-2013, 20:09

Instead of crucifying me for my supposed lack of communication skills, you could take it into account. Then maybe I can try to take into account your deficiencies...

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

02-07-2013, 21:10

Supersoniqs answered my comment on their, by editing and censoring it.
Then I said "Thanks for answering and censoring my comment." and they censored that too.

VERY CHILDISH and EVIL!!!

By edoz

Paragon (2034)

edoz's picture

02-07-2013, 21:11

It is cool that you can insert the playsoniq in this adapter. It's saves me a slot and 4096 is fine by me.
so if already possible put me on the buyer list

By OeiOeiVogeltje

Paragon (1191)

OeiOeiVogeltje's picture

02-07-2013, 21:14

GuyveR800 wrote:

Supersoniqs answered my comment on their, by editing and censoring it.
Then I said "Thanks for answering and censoring my comment." and they censored that too.

VERY CHILDISH and EVIL!!!

I suppose that MRC's fault too

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

02-07-2013, 21:16

They are now putting words in my mouth.. And deleting comments I write informing their readers of that fact.

I'm assuming it's Sander van Nunen doing this, who is also running this site... That's why I'm writing about it here.

Also I think users should be informed about manipulation like this.

By edoz

Paragon (2034)

edoz's picture

02-07-2013, 21:22

Relax dude, live is one big manipulation...

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

02-07-2013, 21:39

edoz, you're right...
Still, I feel that it is my duty to the community to report the truth. Even if some people crucify me for it.

By mars2000you

Enlighted (5368)

mars2000you's picture

02-07-2013, 21:43

By Zilogger

Resident (39)

Zilogger's picture

02-07-2013, 21:53

GuyveR800 wrote:

"The second expander (and up) will configure itself into a I/O expander."

How is this different from inserting any existing slotexpander into any other existing slotexpander?
Seems to me there's a lot of HYPE being generated here for common slotexpander functionality...
The only new thing I read is the dubious volume adjusters and the optional clock crystal.
Also, LOL @ noobness galore which I'm not going to explain because I'll just get yelled at by indoctrinated users.

A second device of this into the fourth slot, will be turned into I/O slots instead of extra
expanded slots.
It's a nice device. i've seen the prototypes in Marienberg.
( An I/O expander is a differend device, not this one.
Something todo at &H40 with a Manufactory ID )

Not a Hype, a real thing.

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

02-07-2013, 22:05

"I/O expander" weren't my words, and the the &H40 thing is called "Switched I/O" Wink

Normally a slotexpander stuck into another slotexpander will already function as I/O slots only, but also a slot of the second slotexpander will act like the subslot it was stuck into. After checking circuit diagrams of existing slotexpander designs it seems that exactly which slot is not fully deterministic, due to leakage of the secondary slot register into the second slotexpander. Obviously for cartridges that accept no memory reading/writing, this is not a problem and these I/O only devices should work perfectly in the second slotexpander.

By Zilogger

Resident (39)

Zilogger's picture

02-07-2013, 22:19

So, GuyveR800,

What is your problem with this device called "Modulon"
It's a Slotexpander with a twist.
Separated volume per subslot.
3,57 MHz Clock for Audio and Music Cartridges.
Maybe even a solution for the SCC+ /SD Cartridge when your MSX is running at 7MHz.

It's possible that i'm buying a "Modulon".
I'm still building my own Slotexpanders.

By syn

Paragon (1862)

syn's picture

02-07-2013, 22:35

hey zilogger I mailed you a while back through your website hansoranje.nl about your 6-slot expanders but I never got a reply, so I assumed you didnt made them anymore.

But now that I look closer it seems you have a few different mail adresses listed on your site, which one is your correct mail address?

By Zilogger

Resident (39)

Zilogger's picture

02-07-2013, 22:48

My Demon account is gone.
Too expensive to keep it going with XS4ALL.
My e-mail is info apestaart hansoranje.nl
or msx apestaart hansoranje.nl

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

02-07-2013, 23:21

Well, Zilogger, I don't have a problem with this device. I think it's great that another slotexpander is being developed!

The price is good too. I would consider buying it if it had the separate audio outputs (which would be an advantage compared to my current Sunrise 8-slot expander). Unfortunately I do not have the electronic skills to add them myself.

I just asked for some clarifications and the same old trolls started blowing up against me again.
I also don't like to have words put in my mouth and/or censored, so I make mention of that.

By Zilogger

Resident (39)

Zilogger's picture

03-07-2013, 00:38

GuyveR800,

What do you want to do ?
1x FM-Pac with separated Melody and Rhythm output,
1x Philips Music Module with Expanded Sample RAM with ROM V 1.3,
1x Philips Music Module with Expanded Sample RAM no ROM (second address),
1x Moonsound
1x SCC cartridge
and the build-in PSG

All with separated sound outputs.
Y'll need also a multi channel soundmixer.
It's possible to do.
Sounds like fun to do.

By Sama

Ambassador (2060)

Sama's picture

03-07-2013, 01:09

@my friend GuyveR800:

Quote:

Supersoniqs answered my comment on their, by editing and censoring it.
Then I said "Thanks for answering and censoring my comment." and they censored that too.

VERY CHILDISH and EVIL!!!

Oh no!!! That's so childish, but even worse, so very EVIL... What to do?!

Quote:

They are now putting words in my mouth.. And deleting comments I write informing their readers of that fact.

I'm assuming it's Sander van Nunen doing this, who is also running this site... That's why I'm writing about it here.

Also I think users should be informed about manipulation like this.

Oh noes... CONSPIRACY!!!

Quote:

edoz, you're right...
Still, I feel that it is my duty to the community to report the truth. Even if some people crucify me for it.

Thankfully there are people like you around, who can report the truth! At least I took notice!

Quote:

I just asked for some clarifications and the same old trolls started blowing up against me again.

That's not nice! Bad trolls, bad bad trolls!

Seriously, GuyveR800, assuming that you really have interest in this device, please mind the way in which you ask or state things. The way you did it now, seems mostly funny to me, provoking this kind of reply.

Big hug to you!

By Creepy

Champion (328)

Creepy's picture

03-07-2013, 10:13

How does the expander work with the playsoniq? Does the expander itself reconfigure the playsoniq to disable the subslots? And would that be possible to do from the msx itself when the playsoniq is in an other expander?

By Lord_Zett

Paladin (807)

Lord_Zett's picture

08-07-2013, 07:30

great new msx slot expander

By Retrofan

Paragon (1211)

Retrofan's picture

11-07-2013, 10:30

Now only just add the possibility to connect a flatcable and it would be perfect! Then it would be suitable for more MSX computers like 1chipMSX Smile

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (2801)

sd_snatcher's picture

12-07-2013, 02:42

Thanks you Supersoniqs for developing another nice hardware! Big smile

But I must also agree with Retrofan: some elegant way to allow the slot expander to be placed away from the MSX could be very useful for some friends who have the following problem:

By Meits

Scribe (5066)

Meits's picture

12-07-2013, 09:19

Totally agree. The setup in sd_snatcher's picture looks like a mess Big smile
The classic slotexpanders were already equiped with a long cable so one could put it a bit away of the computer.

By msxholder

Champion (321)

msxholder's picture

12-07-2013, 10:29

One flat cable 50 wires,
two cardedge connectors
one cardedge pcb
and you are done !
Love this slotexpander

By W76NearDark

Paladin (684)

W76NearDark's picture

14-07-2013, 13:45

Is it too late to redesign? I think it is a nice product with splendid features! Though it will be quite a challenge to use it with eg. a Sony hbf-700p when all cartridges are hanging upside down. The most ideal situation is the conventional one with the flatcable. Also the use of a MT Telcom modem cartridge quite disturbs me... in my opinion one of the most ugly expansions ever!

By Meits

Scribe (5066)

Meits's picture

14-07-2013, 14:33

Beggers can't be chosers... There's not many suitable cartridges around like the telcom beast... They lost their right to live totally when the BBSes left... Other cartridges might stil be functional...

You got a big bull's eye with the Sony remark though... Ribon cable with connectors ftw...

By W76NearDark

Paladin (684)

W76NearDark's picture

14-07-2013, 21:14

I can't imagine there are still MT Telcom modems left... even as a curator of broken MSX stuff I don't have one. So why bother asking for it.

But for real I don't think the incovenience such a design gives when used with eg. A Sony hb-f700p is acceptable in any way.

By Meits

Scribe (5066)

Meits's picture

15-07-2013, 07:04

I'm sure Sander must have thought about it, iirc he's got some Sony machines (he does, if he didn't sell his black 900).

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (2801)

sd_snatcher's picture

22-07-2013, 02:05

I think a simple "slot extension" could be optionally sold for those, like my friend, need to place the slot expander away from the MSX.

This slot expander would contain just:

1) One cartridge connector on one end
2) One slot connector on the other end
3) The necessary buffers on both ends to make it work

If one would want to take a more bleeding edge approach, then some kind of multiplexing (or serial protocol) could be used to try to make the cable thinner and less clumsy. While keeping in mind that it must support turbo designs, of course.

I would certainly buy a product like that, since I own a CIEL mini slot expander that, while great for the rear slot of Panasonic/Sony machines, is very clumsy to use on a Gradiente Expert and also keeps me away from Sanyo and other similar designs.

By igal

Master (211)

igal's picture

02-08-2013, 19:53

Hi.
(Sorry for the Google translation)

Can you say how do you allow for the use of a Playsoniq on an Expander?
I made my Expander and I'd love to put this Playsoniq Expander.

This allows two Expanders Connect on my MSX.

Thank you for yours help.

By mesiasmsx

Prophet (3063)

mesiasmsx's picture

07-08-2013, 09:34

Totally agree with sd_snatcher, W76NearDark and Retrofan. F-700 Series, National ,Captain NTT Running Naked in a Field of Flowers or others.

Thanks to supersoniqs.

By msxholder

Champion (321)

msxholder's picture

04-10-2013, 01:00

Yeah just today i configured an msx2+ with 12 slots.
What am i do-ing
configurating rom,ram,rs232,msxdos2,modem,disk,hd,qd,kun,or game
Or short what
secudary
between
primary slot
and what last subslot ""cartridge""
It's an problem !!

By mesiasmsx

Prophet (3063)

mesiasmsx's picture

30-06-2014, 20:31

What happen about this?

There more news?

By syn

Paragon (1862)

syn's picture

01-07-2014, 14:25

A small batch was sold during Nijmegen 2014, but you I don't know its current status so best is to contact them directly.

My MSX profile